06 November 2010.
10 00 hours,
Pearson International Airport,
12 hour direct flight from Toronto to Delhi.
Land in Delhi at 11 00 hrs on 07 November 2010.
Make the connecting flight to Bombay at 12 40 hrs.
Reach home by 17 00 hrs.
Go out for a quiet dinner and return in time to see Chelsea whip Liverpool.
What actually happened:
After the best week of my life in Cuba I was all ready to fly back to India to resume my studies after a well deserved vacation. I was saying my final goodbyes to my parents when my dad told me that if I would care to walk back a few metres and deposit the trolley in the designated area, I would get back 25 cents of the 2 dollars I paid for the trolley. So I walked backed and pushed the trolley past a red line as instructed and waited for my 25 cents. When I checked I found 2 25 cents coins lying in the collection box. I smiled and returned back with my new loot. Little did I know at that time that I had used up the last bit of my luck.
Half way through my flight.
Some point over the Atlantic.
I had adjusted the time in my watch to the Indian standard time. I knew I had to sleep in the flight else I would be badly jet lagged when I reached India. I was almost drifting into peaceful slumber, when the captain announced that we needed to fasten our seat belts as the plane was experiencing turbulent weather. And some turbulence it was. Never ever have I experienced turbulence of this kind. In fact it was so bad that at one point I was almost thrown off my seat. That frightened the hell out of me. For a moment I thought that that air ride would be my last. Sitting in the plane which was shivering like a naked eskimo in Alaska, I began to review my life. The good deeds. The bad deeds. They all flashed before my mind. It didn't take me too long to decide that this wasn't the best time to die. I promised myself that I would do all it takes to get out of this situation alive and for the first time I even located the life jacket in the plane.
But within half an hour, the situation was under control. The turbulence had ceased and so had my fears. I realised that there was no way I could get sleep and was resigned to the fact that I'd have to spend the next two days in Mumbai getting rid of my jet lag. I browsed through the in flight entertainment of Air India and decided to watch Badmaash Company. That was the best movie on offer. Half way into the movie, the captain makes an announcement that the flight would make a halt at Stockholm as one of the passengers was critical.
At once I knew that there was no way I would make the 12:40 connection at Delhi. Even if the Delhi flight was late by an hour I wouldn't manage to make it. The next flight to Mumbai was at five in the evening. I would have no option but to take that flight.
We landed at Stockholm at some unearthly hour. The airport was absolutely deserted. But no sooner had the flight landed, did the paramedics come and take the patient to the nearest hospital. Apparently the 80 year old guy had had one drink too many and the turbulent weather had made him puke and he was feeling claustrophobic. All my sympathies towards him vanished. We were stuck in Sweden for another three hours. When the flight finally took off the captain announced that we were flying 2 hours behind schedule, which meant we would land in Delhi at around 13:15 hours. Considering that my connection was also an Air India flight, I still had some hope of making it. I crossed my fingers and continued watching the movie.
13 20 hours.
07 November, 2010.
Indira Gandhi International Airport,
As soon as the flight door opened, I ran out like a maniac and reached the transfer desk. They told me that my connecting flight had been delayed and I could still make it. I was issued fresh boarding cards and was told to proceed to Gate 19. Even though I was in such a hurry, I still managed to notice the stunning interiors of the new terminal. Once in the aircraft I thanked the stars and heaved a sigh of relief. I began reading Jeffrey Archer and waited for the flight to take off.
16 00 hours
The passengers in the plane start making a fuss now. It has been five hours since they have been seated in the plane. They start shouting anti Air India slogans and about half the passengers left the aircraft and moved towards the gate. They started protesting there and managed to break a couple of glass doors in the terminal. The reason for the delay was the fact that the air space was shut because Obama had landed there. After the air space opened, there weren't enough staff at the airport to hand over the flight plan to the captain. My otherwise calm sister asked the air hostess as to why the passengers weren't informed that the delay was not Air India's fault. After all loyalty towards the national carrier runs in our veins. Finally the captain himself had to go and get the flight plan.
18 10 hours.
IGI Airport runway,
Five and a half hours after its scheduled departure the flight took off. I was pretty sure that my second connecting flight at five thirty had also taken off before this one. I wondered whether I would even make it in time to watch the second half of the Chelsea Liverpool match.
20 20 hours.
Mumbai International Airport.
My sister and I were the only people left waiting for our baggage. Half an hour had passed and not one of my four bags had arrived. Finally the conveyor belt stopped moving. And we headed towards the lost luggage counter. With a lump down my throat I filled in the details and descriptions of my missing bags. Three hard case strollers which had my entire wardrobe and about 2% of my sister's wardrobe. And the fourth bag was a carton containing my 10 foot Christmas tree.
23 00 hours.
The Francis' residence
I reached home and immediately switched on the television. I had made it just in time to see the final score. Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool. I wasn't surprised one bit. It was that kinda day.
10 months ago